Smerconish was once seen as a rising star in conservative radio; George W. Bush even called in to Smerconish’s show on election night in 2000. But as Bush’s popularity plummeted in his second term and right-wing talk radio lurched rightward in the mid-2000s, Smerconish’s more-nuanced takes fell a bit out of favor. He says he was pressured to get more right-wing — but wanted to continue to be a conservative moderate. Smerconish also, notably, says refused to take ads for gold-selling businesses, a recent staple of conservative radio.
Now he’s on satellite radio, and says he has “put [his] livelihood on the line” to show that moderate punditry does have an audience and … why am I bothering to recap these things, let’s talk about his pillows:
“I’m the referendum, aren’t I?” he says on the patio of his spacious home in swanky Villanova, Pa., his arm draped across a pillow bearing the outline of his signature bald head.
Do you think the Smerconish bald head logo was originally created by doing a silhouette cutout using a flashlight and his shadow? I hope so.
Smerconish has also written a novel, and like all political novels it ends with the author using the main character as a mouthpiece to talk directly to the reader:
As Smerconish makes his transition, he’s delivered a kind of manifesto: “Talk: A Novel,” scheduled for release May 6. The book’s hero is an ambitious talk radio host named Stan Powers who is so desperate to get a national syndication deal that he’ll say anything and trash anyone, even though every move he makes is tearing him up inside.
In the novel’s climactic scene, Powers locks the studio door and delivers a speech about the decline of civility and compromise in American politics, but it might as well be Smerconish pointing a finger of blame: “It’s the polarized media,” Powers declares. “Notice that in the precise period when polarization progressed in Washington — that is, the last 40 years — there has been a corresponding polarization in the media. Coincidence? No way.”
Doesn't anybody simply write a good pamphlet anymore?
If you think you'd enjoy Smerconish's novel — "the world of conservative talk radio" is a fantastic setting for a story — he's having a "Reverse" Book Club with Larry Kane on May 7 to discuss Talk and maybe The Beatles.